A West Vancouver lawyer who makes close to $700,000 a year has been denied a request to significantly lower support payments to his ex-wife.
The lawyer - identified only as "C.D." in court documents - has made an average of $57,000 a month for the past three years and was paying his ex-wife "A.B." $11,500 a month since the couple divorced in 2008.
Recently the husband went to court, asking that his support payments be gradually lowered to $5,000 a month over two years.
He asked that his ex be cut off after three years.
The lawyer, 53, who owns homes in both West Vancouver and Qualicum Beach along with a Corvette, argued that his ex-wife, 50, needs an incentive to become self-sufficient as he anticipates his own income dropping when he starts to cut back on his work schedule. The lawyer also argued that his ex could sell her home in North Vancouver and move into a condo, investing the difference to contribute to her income.
But Justice Susan Griffin didn't agree, saying both the husband and wife contributed to his career success during their 15-year marriage.
"The risk that the wife might not be able to find a lucrative career after the children were grown up and the husband was well-established in his career is a risk that both the husband and the wife should share just as they should share in the chance they took on the husband's career . . . the wife should not have to bear the cost of those career choices disproportionately," she wrote.
Griffin ordered the lawyer to keep paying his ex-wife $10,000 a month for an indefinite period of time.
According to court documents, when the couple first married, the husband was making less than $50,000 a year with a Toronto law firm. The wife worked as a flight attendant. After the couple's two daughters were born, and the family moved to Vancouver, the wife stayed home to look after them while the husband built a high-powered career in corporate law. He often worked evenings and weekends and was frequently away on business trips.
During that time, at one point the husband's income climbed to over $800,000 in one year.
"At the end of the marriage, the wife was a middle-aged woman without any developed work skills or significant job experience while the husband on the other hand, was now a leading lawyer with an established career in Vancouver," wrote the judge.
The wife has since been developing a business as a home stager, but anticipates earning only about $20,000 a year.
The lawyer argued that his ex-wife's business plans were unrealistic and that the level of support she got from him had allowed her to be deliberately under-employed.
But the judge rejected that, saying she wasn't convinced the ex-wife would be able to find a job that paid much better than that, given her age, lack of skills, and significant time out of the workforce.
In her reasons, Griffin said the husband enjoys a good standard of living. "He lives in a home in West Vancouver, has another home in Qualicum Beach and substantial savings for retirement and is earning a large income that will allow him to continue to accumulate assets and savings," she wrote, while the ex-wife's standard of living is "quite modest in comparison."
The couple asked that their names be kept out of any court judgment.
The judge wrote in her reasons that she wasn't convinced there was any good reason for that - noting most other people who go before the public courts to settle their differences "do not have the luxury of anonymity. . . ."
But she ruled since nobody had yet opposed the request, she would leave the ban in place for the time being.
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